And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:10-12 (ESV)
There is nothing the over-commercialization, Fox News “culture war” nonsense, and cheesy movie releases can do to stop Christmas from being my favorite time of year. Although we seem to do everything possible to drown out the Spirit of the season, there is one staple which is hard to diminish: The Nativity. No matter how jaded or discouraged you are with religion in general, it is hard to shake off the image of the God of the Universe lying in helpless in the lowest of circumstances. It is this powerful truth, the God who was truly incarnate, which is why I am a Christian.
The God Who Pooped
The reality of the Nativity is so alien and awkward to our view of the world, we feel compelled to “fix it.” It is hard to find a painting, illustration, or diorama of the Nativity which even remotely resembles the dirt, grime, desperation, and disgrace of the situation the Messiah entered the world through. Halos, guilded robes, pure white “swaddling, ” make-up, straight hair, clean faces, and on and on. Just take a moment and let your mind realize that the Alpha and Omega needed a diaper change. It’s not very comfortable. We want kings, celebrities, success and glory. The reality of Jesus Christ, and what it means to be his disciple, is fundamentally opposed to all our sensibilities.
The God Who Bled
There is little more desirable to us than power. Just look at our blockbuster line-up and it is easy to see how attractive invulnerability and might is. We admire people who are strong and confident. When Christ was facing crucifiction, some cried out “Save yourself!” (Luke 23:37). No one wanted to believe God could be vulnerable. The truth is that Jesus Christ submitted himself to the same cruelty and brutality of this world which we face. No exception, no special treatment, he faced our darkness at full force, and loved us.
The God Who Left
The resurrection is the part of the movie where the hero has proven himself, paid his dues, and how gets the glory, the respect, and the girl… but not our hero. The moment where Jesus would have subjected the world in glory is the moment he left. We would have made him king, we would have elected him president (we still try), we would have done just about anything… except learn. So Christ, whose incarnation brought God into humanity, then brought humanity into God. Christ’s death tore the Veil of the Holy of Holies, and his ascension into heaven tore our expectations.
The God Who Lives In Us
We never forgave God for refusing to rule over us. We live disjointed; the Children of God who wish to be slaves of God. Yes, I am frustrated with a Church that continually tries to sew back up the Veil. Yes, I am saddened to see so many Christians still chasing an image of God outside themselves. Yes, I mourn a world set free by the Blood of Christ who choose to suppress themselves and each other.
But when I see the weakest moment of humanity made sacred and honored by the Incarnate God, the Word made flesh, I could never be anything other than a Christian. And when I am discouraged and worn by the artificial world around me, all I have to do is look at the genuine living God, Jesus Christ, alive in YOU. I could never live for anything else.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, RLC!